SMART Summit- Day 1: The SEEs are Coming!
By John Mein
The day is finally here – when 53 people from across the world join together as SMART Exemplary Educators (SEE) at the SMART World Headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Throughout the week, we will work together, collaborate, and see firsthand what SMART has built over the past 20 years. This is day one of the SMART Exemplary Educator Summit…
It’s Sunday at 4:30 a.m. in Kerriville, Texas: the blah feeling of the alarm clock ringing out waaaay too early quickly subsides to the realization that there is a reason for it – today I fly to Calgary, Canada as one of more than 50 educators attending the SEE Summit! Time to get ready and hit the road to San Antonio, Texas, where I fly out.
6:45 a.m.: Arrived in San Antonio with very light traffic on the way in, car parked in airport security parking, checked in my bag, and $25 later I sit at my gate, B4, awaiting my 8:30 a.m. flight to board. Since I have two hours, I checked out the new Gold Star SEE program (first launched to the Summiteers to test out) and it looks terrific! I love creating games, so the game-style format appeals to me big time. I like the idea of various challenges and it shows how much involvement with SMART some people really have.
10:35 a.m.: A very quick flight from San Antonio to Dallas/Ft. Worth and a ride on the sky tram to my next gate, I’ve boarded my last flight until my return Saturday. I had a great conversation on my flight with a retired teacher from New York about the flipped classroom and how much technology has changed the classroom. There wasn’t much time between de-boarding that flight and getting to my next gate but I got on and immediately started to see people wearing the blue SMART shirts. There is a bit of a delay because we have some sort of flashlight or flashing light that has to be replaced. It’s a good thing I’m not in charge of that – I’m pretty notorious for burned-out bulbs in my house. The captain says to shut down devices so I’ll talk more shortly.
1:30 p.m.: Yaaawn! Well, it’s 1:30, and I just woke up from a nice little nap. In the spirit of the trip, I had Canada Dry Ginger Ale for my in-flight drink. I’m told we should be landing soon which is a relief because it seems they took the three biggest guys on the flight and sardined us into the same row- thankfully I got the aisle seat. The suspense of this week seems to grow exponentially the closer we get to our destination. I’ve never been to Calgary, but the photos I’ve seen are beautiful. I’m so happy they built in some sight-seeing time during the week. Everyone I have told about this trip has told me how amazing the city and nearby Banff are. I look forward to seeing them for myself VERY soon!
2:00 p.m. (MT): Look out Calgary, the SEEs are HERE! We have landed, gone through customs, and have linked up with Marie-Eve, our smiling SMART greeter. SMART has done a fantastic job of synchronizing the landing times to be most efficient. I think four flights landed within a 45-minute window which resulted in around 20 SEEs. Meet and greet is starting immediately. “What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you teach? How long have you been a SEE?” Smiles were on all faces. A passerby would think this was a family reunion rather than a group of strangers. Marie-Eve tells us it’s time to load up on the bus.
2:45 p.m.: A beautiful drive through the outskirts of Calgary and a comical history tour led by our bus driver, Yope (I’m sorry if I slaughtered the spelling). Shortly after, we have arrived at Hotel Alma. We checked in but our rooms aren’t quite ready so we have headed to the official meet and greet. SMART stories are shared throughout the room. I visited with Eva from Czech Republic, Rafranz from Ennis, Texas and Lori from Lubbock, Texas.
3:45 p.m.: Home sweet home (at least for the week). I’m greeted by a SMART swag bag at my door. SMART always does an awesome job showing their appreciation for SMART users. Each item has a functional purpose – a SMART insulated coffee mug and drinking cup so we don’t waste paper products, a SMART bag, pen and notebook, SMART pointer (can never have enough of these), our nametag, and a SEE cookie. I’m going to settle in, try to catch a few Z’s and head up to dinner.
6:00 p.m.: It’s dinner time. After everyone settled in, Deena Zenyk, SMART’s program manager who also organized the SEE Summit, welcomed the group and introduced us to the SEE Peer Mentors who have attended the SEE Summit before and are here to help with the various tasks throughout the week; SMART staff who are facilitating the Summit, and the international SEEs attending the conference.
We did a great icebreaker to meet all the other SEEs in attendance, and then it was time to eat. What a beautiful, delicious spread they put out for us – local Alberta beef, potatoes galore, fresh salads, and don’t get me started on the dessert bar. Collaboration began during dinner as I connected with other Texas SEEs (I think we have everyone outnumbered). I made great friends this evening, but it has been a long day and it’s time to hit the sack. You’ll hear more from me tomorrow!
Thanks for stopping by, John
About the author
John Mein has been an educator for five years, teaching Language Arts at the middle school level in Kerrville, Texas. John is a Certified SMART Board Trainer and a SMART Exemplary Educator. He was one of 50 chosen to attend the SMART Summit in Calgary this summer. Mein holds summer professional development sessions to train faculties and staff on effective ly using the SMART Board interactive whiteboard and other classroom technology. He has presented his SMART Games at the TCEA technology conference in Austin, TX. Mein continues to be a SMART and technology advocate by writing grants to bring more technology into the classroom. You can find his accredited resources on the SMART Exchange website or on his Mr. Smart Trainer blog.